Quest of The Quad

Students show STEM skills in Raytheon UK's 2019 Quadcopter Challenge

Eighty-four teams, 500 aspirant students. One coveted title.

Over a period of 19 weeks, students from across the UK competed in Raytheon’s Quadcopter Challenge, designing and building a four-blade, remotely piloted drone. But the competition came with a twist: students had to customise the craft to reflect how drones might be used to solve a particular country’s technological, social or economic challenges.

On 13 November, Kingdown School, Warminster, was named Raytheon UK’s 2019 Quadcopter Challenge champion at Royal Air Force Museum Cosford.

"The competition has given us a range of subjects to learn, like aeronautics, electronics, and metal work," said Silas, age 13, of Kingdown School. "We had to completely rewrite the design to make it fit. To win the national final feels amazing. The experience has really encouraged me to go into STEM and engineering."

Kingdown School: Winners of Raytheon UK

Kingdown School: Winners of Raytheon UK's 2019 Quadcopter Challenge Competition Final

Each team was required to reflect the technology of one of seven countries, including China, Japan, Germany, Finland, India and the U.S. The kingdown School team represented France, for example. The objective was to highlight the importance of global technology collaboration and the sharing of engineering ideas.

“The students came up with some really clever ideas,” said Raytheon UK STEM lead Sophie Wilson. “Japan suffers from earthquakes, so one team built their quad as a humanitarian warning system that would drop alerts and aid to people during a natural disaster. Another design was based on Finland’s Linux operating system being used to programme drones to perform various automated tasks, such as surveillance or to aid emergency departments. We also saw a drone for India able to quickly deliver short-lived, life-saving medical supplies like vaccines over difficult terrain.” 

More than 1,000 young people have taken part in the Challenge since it was first held in 2015. Students learn project management, team-building, piloting, innovation, finance and problem-solving skills.

Pupils from Kingdown School at work during the Quadcopter Competition Challenge

Kingdown School pupils at work during the Quadcopter Competition Challenge

“The Quadcopter Challenge is the cornerstone of our STEM strategy working with schools,” said Alex Rose-Parfitt, Raytheon UK’s executive STEM sponsor. “Our mission is to shift the culture surrounding STEM careers by breaking the current misconception that scientists spend their time in lab coats in labs and engineers are covered in oil working on cars.”

The competition is just one way Raytheon UK is investing in technology, STEM skills and training in the UK. In November, the company was named STEM Learning's 2019 Inspirational STEM Employer of the Year. The award recognises outstanding commitment to STEM by an employer of any size, particularly when it is embedded within the culture of the organisation.